Another RARE 1911 - an Original .38 AMU sold to Gill Hebard, sent to J.E. Clark, and back to Hebard

Discussion in 'Collector's Corner' started by buckstix, Oct 25, 2018.

  1. buckstix

    buckstix New Member

    4
    Sep 7, 2018
    Another RARE 1911 - an Original .38 AMU sold to Gill Hebard, sent to J.E. Clark, and back to Hebard

    Hello all,

    AMU stands for Army Marksmanship Unit. I think you might enjoy reading about this 56 year old Colt 1911.

    I've just acquired another rare 1911 variation, a .38 AMU in excellent condition. According to Colt Factory records, (letter coming next week) this gun (frame and all parts) was shipped as a .38 AMU "Kit" to Gil Hebard, Knoxville, IL on Sept. 7, 1962. A special notation in the letter states; "Note: Kit with unfit slide and unfit barrel ... sold with a .38 Special magazine".

    Beverly, the Colt Historian, said this was a common practice with shipments to Gil Hebard as he, (or his customers) would precision fit the barrel to the slide, and then precision fit the slide to the frame. All this was was done to achieve utmost accuracy. Apparently this gun (or kit) was then sold to J.E. Clark, Shreveport, LA. His stamp and work order number "1062" (date - Oct. 62) can be seen of the bottom of the slide. (I will update as more info is found)

    Clark is know for building very accurate Competition pistols. I'm not sure if it then went to R.G. Curtis to add the under-barrel weight, or if he was the final customer, or if Curtis did some further work. Curtis was an AMU armorer who apprenticed under Richard Shockey. Shockey was another custom gunsmith in the 50s - 80's that accurized 1911s. The under-barrel weight on this 1911 is recognized as a typical Shockey design. Curtis later acquired Shockey's business and continued custom 1911 work.

    pictures below show ....

    The number "310" is stamped on the bottom of the slide matching the last 3 digits of the serial number of the frame.

    The "J.E.Clark" stamp and "date" are stamped on the bottom of the slide

    The Barrel is marked with the caliber "COLT .38 AMU" and the Slide is marked "COLT .38 AMU Automatic".

    The weight is marked "R.G. Curtis".

    The sights are Bomar rear sight, and an Extended front sight.

    The front of the trigger-guard was machined to attach the weight.

    The magazine is marked .38 spec.

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    Well, I finally took the pistol to the range for a spin. Although I'm a pretty good pistol shot, I must admit this group was fired using a mechanical rest. Fired at 50 feet.

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    I also received the Colt Factory Letter for this AMU.

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    I also received a response from my inquiry to Clark Custom Guns. This confirms that the pistol accurized and sold back to Gil Hebard, who in turn sold it as their model 61 as shown in their catalog from 1962. Sometime thereafter, the purchaser must have sent it Curtis (Shockey) for the instillation of the under-barrel weight.

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    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
    ronin11, awp101, wcanterbury and 4 others like this.
  2. Jim w.

    Jim w. Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2016
    If this is the one I saw on another board, it is a .38 AMU that was reconverted to .38 Special for common ammo. .38 AMU is .38 Special Wadcutter except rim diameter is the same as .38 Super.
     
    wcanterbury likes this.

  3. scottl

    scottl Well-Known Member

    792
    Jun 19, 2012
    .38 special
     
    Toney56 and wcanterbury like this.
  4. 22ConversionUnut

    22ConversionUnut Well-Known Member

    72
    Oct 25, 2018
    Nice pistol with great provenance. J.E. Clark Sr. (James) was the builder of the pistol, not L.E. Clark. His name/shop stamp wasn't applied fully.
    I've never heard of, or seen anything built by R.G. Curtis. His middle initial looks like a "G" on the frame weight.
     
  5. buckstix

    buckstix New Member

    4
    Sep 7, 2018
    Hello 22ConversionUnut,

    Thanks for the reply.

    Yes, the post has been corrected.
     
  6. 22ConversionUnut

    22ConversionUnut Well-Known Member

    72
    Oct 25, 2018
    Again nice pistol,
    R.L. (Richard) Shockey had a thriving business going when he passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack in 1981. If Mr Curtis bought out his business I'm surprised I've never seen anything done from him. Did you do any googling on him? I suspect a previous owner in the 80's wanted a frame weight and spied this one and had it installed?
     
  7. buckstix

    buckstix New Member

    4
    Sep 7, 2018
    Hello 22ConversionUnut

    Thanks for the reply.

    I found several references on the internet that Curtis worked / apprenticed with Shockey, and then later assumed the business. Not sure how long it lasted or if he continued to use the Shockey name.
     
  8. 22ConversionUnut

    22ConversionUnut Well-Known Member

    72
    Oct 25, 2018
    The under frame weight in that design is a Shockey designed piece. That and his "mouse trap" recoil spring plug were widely known and used in the bullseye community in the 70's. You have a interesting piece of bullseye history there.
     
    wcanterbury likes this.
  9. Mike A

    Mike A Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Mar 19, 2017
    What a beautiful piece of AMU history.
    Thank you for sharing the history & pictures of this fine old Colt with us.
     
  10. Colorado Sonny

    Colorado Sonny Deo Volente Supporting Addict

    Sep 25, 2015
    Darn, that is an extra fine pistol that you picked up!

    As a side note, My dad and mom bought a five bedroom two story ranch house with 2.5 bath in East Anaheim, CA on a 1/4 acre lot through the GI Bill for $29,500 and the monthly payment was $129. What looks like dirt cheap to us now was some serious cash for a pistol!
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018

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